Unfortunately, King Philip played the role of spoiler, walking away with a hard-earned 16-7 win over Foxboro.
Defense shined for both teams in the first game played on the grass at Ahern Middle School, the first regular season football game played there since it was named after Foxboro’s coach in August.
“That was a good old-fashioned football game, old school by both teams and both sets of kids,” Martinelli said. “[King Philip] made some big plays and we didn’t make enough, I think it came down to that. Both teams had good kickers, both teams played good defense. It was just a matter of a couple of big plays they made and we didn’t.”
King Philip punter Cole Baker averaged over 35 yards on his punts, his last pinning Foxboro deep in its own territory as it looked to complete a second half comeback.
Foxboro punter Liam Foley averaged over 40 yards on his four punts, and the Warriors defense limited visiting King Philip to just 70 yards of offense in the second half.
The longest drive by either team was 56 yards, orchestrated by KP quarterback Brendan Lydon in the second quarter, using eight plays to find the end zone.
Foxboro’s offense didn’t run more than four plays on an offensive series until its last two drives of the game, the first ending in a turnover on downs, the second stopped by the end of the game.
“If style points, we wouldn’t get any,” admitted KP head coach Brian Lee. “We’re playing pretty good defense though. And we’re playing pretty well on the special teams, Cole is doing a nice job kicking for us, putting the defense in good field position.
“We’re missing our hoggies [offensive line] from last year. They’re going to get better. We replaced all six of them from last year. They’re going to get better, it’s tough to get those tough first downs. We had a bunch of weird penalties we have to straighten out too.”
KP forced a quick three and out to start the game and quickly put points on the board. After an eight-play drive only resulted in 19 yards, the Warriors trotted out Baker, who drilled a 31-yard field goal with 4:14 left in the first quarter.
It looked Foxboro was ready to respond, starting with a 20-yard carry from Mike Henri (10 carries, 50 yards), a seven-yard carry and then a run that advanced into KP territory. But on that third carry, Aidan Bender forced a fumble on the tackle and Max Armour pounced on it to get the ball back for KP.
KP had to punt the ball back to Foxboro after its drive stalled but with Baker placing his kick to the Foxboro 10-yard line, KP’s defense was in a good spot. Two rushes for loss and an incompletion resulted in a punt back to the visitors.
“Defense is keeping us in there,” Lee said. “We were making big plays when we had to. It’s always a grind over here. Especially tonight, you know they are playing for their coach. You knew it was going to be a bloodbath out there.”
Shane Frommer had carries of six, seven, eight and 12 to get KP into the red zone. But a big stop from Foxboro’s Patrick Kaveny resulted in a one-yard loss, and then Matt Pond stopped a run for a five-yard loss, forcing KP into a 3rd and 16.
Lydon then tossed a perfect pass into the back of the end zone where senior Tom Madden hauled it in for a 25-yard touchdown. The extra point was low and blocked, giving KP a 9-0 lead with 6:24 left in the second quarter. KP took that lead into the halftime break.
“It was definitely a defensive battle,” Lee said. “The defense put is in a position for the first three points. We hit the big play for the [Madden] touchdown. Then we just hung on again, which we did last week. This was really a 9-7 game here and just scratching it out.”
Midway through the third quarter, King Philip was pinned inside its 10-yard line and elected to punt on third down. Foxboro took over at the KP 35 yard line and needed four plays to cut into the deficit.
A pair of runs from Henri (seven yards, three yards) sandwiched around a run from Anthony Capachietti (8 carries, 32 yards) set Foxboro up for 2nd and 7. Quarterback Devin Hassett elected to keep the ball on the option, raced out to the left side and followed a huge block from Teddy Maher around the edge to race for a 22-yard touchdown. Russell Neale’s extra point cut the deficit to 9-7 with 3:08 in the third quarter.
Foxboro picked up some momentum at the end of the third quarter when Henri picked off a pass from Lydon. But on the first play of the fourth quarter, an errant snap resulted in a 13-yard loss and two plays later, Foxboro had to punt.
The hosts got the ball back with 5:19 to play and started the drive with three straight positive plays. Back to back five-yard runs preceded a 14-yard completion from Hassett to Phil Dure. But a one-yard rush was followed by two incompletions.
Facing 4th and 9, Foxboro originally sent out its punt team but then decided to send the offense back out. Foxboro had to take a timeout, leaving them with just three. But before they could get a play off, a flag for delay of game cost the hosts five yards.
“We have to find a way to get the ball into the end zone more consistently,” Martinelli said. “Whether it’s in the air or on the ground, we’re still searching. We answered some questions for ourselves tonight. Even though it’s a non-league game, it’s an important game.”
KP took advantage of the short field, using four plays with Kerr punching it in from five yards out with 1:29 to play to ice the game.
King Philip football (2-0) opens Kelley-Rex division play next week when it welcomes Attleboro (0-2) to Macktaz Field. Foxboro (1-1) welcomes Stoughton to Jack Martinelli Field in its Davenport division opener.